Voyagers by Stephen Crane
Two men sat by the sea waves.
Well, I know I'm not handsome, said one gloomily. He was poking
holes in the sand with a discontented cane.
The companion was watching the waves play. He seemed overcome with
perspiring discomfort as a man who is resolved to set another man
Suddenly his mouth turned into a straight line. To be sure you are
not, he cried vehemently. You look like thunder. I do not desire to
be unpleasant, but I must assure you that your freckled skin
continually reminds spectators of white wall paper with gilt roses on
it. The top of your head looks like a little wooden plate. And your
For a time they were silent. They stared at the waves that purred
near their feet like sleepy sea-kittens.
Finally the first man spoke.
Well, said he, defiantly, what of it?
What of it, exploded the other. Why, it means that you'd look
like blazes in a bathing-suit.
They were again silent. The freckled man seemed ashamed. His tall
companion glowered at the scenery.
I am decided, said the freckled man suddenly. He got boldly up
from the sand and strode away. The tall man followed, walking
sarcastically and glaring down at the round, resolute figure before
A bath-clerk was looking at the world with superior eyes through a
hole in a board. To him the freckled man made application, waving his
hands over his person in illustration of a snug fit. The bath-clerk
thought profoundly. Eventually, he handed out a blue bundle with an air
of having phenomenally solved the freckled man's dimensions.
The latter resumed his resolute stride.
See here, said the tall man, following him, I bet you've got a
regular toga, you know. That fellow couldn't tell
Yes, he could, interrupted the freckled man, I saw correct
mathematics in his eyes.
Well, supposin' he has missed your size. Supposin'
Tom, again interrupted the other, produce your proud clothes and
we'll go in.
The tall man swore bitterly. He went to one of a row of little
wooden boxes and shut himself in it. His companion repaired to a
At first he felt like an opulent monk in a too-small cell, and he
turned round two or three times to see if he could. He arrived finally
into his bathing-dress. Immediately he dropped gasping upon a
three-cornered bench. The suit fell in folds about his reclining form.
There was silence, save for the caressing calls of the waves without.
Then he heard two shoes drop on the floor in one of the little
coops. He began to clamour at the boards like a penitent at an
Tom, called he, Tom
A voice of wrath, muffled by cloth, came through the walls. You go
The freckled man began to groan, taking the occupants of the entire
row of coops into his confidence.
Stop your noise, angrily cried the tall man from his hidden den.
You rented the bathing-suit, didn't you? Then
It ain't a bathing-suit, shouted the freckled man at the boards.
It's an auditorium, a ballroom, or something. It ain't a
The tall man came out of his box. His suit looked like blue skin. He
walked with grandeur down the alley between the rows of coops. Stopping
in front of his friend's door, he rapped on it with passionate
Come out of there, y' ol' fool, said he, in an enraged whisper.
It's only your accursed vanity. Wear it anyhow. What difference does
it make? I never saw such a vain ol' idiot!
As he was storming the door opened, and his friend confronted him.
The tall man's legs gave way, and he fell against the opposite door.
The freckled man regarded him sternly.
You're an ass, he said.
His back curved in scorn. He walked majestically down the alley.
There was pride in the way his chubby feet patted the boards. The tall
man followed, weakly, his eyes riveted upon the figure ahead.
As a disguise the freckled man had adopted the stomach of
importance. He moved with an air of some sort of procession, across a
board walk, down some steps, and out upon the sand.
There was a pug dog and three old women on a bench, a man and a maid
with a book and a parasol, a seagull drifting high in the wind, and a
distant, tremendous meeting of sea and sky. Down on the wet sand stood
a girl being wooed by the breakers.
The freckled man moved with stately tread along the beach. The tall
man, numb with amazement, came in the rear. They neared the girl.
Suddenly the tall man was seized with convulsions. He laughed, and
the girl turned her head.
She perceived the freckled man in the bathing-suit. An expression of
wonderment overspread her charming face. It changed in a moment to a
This smile seemed to smite the freckled man. He obviously tried to
swell and fit his suit. Then he turned a shrivelling glance upon his
companion, and fled up the beach. The tall man ran after him, pursuing
with mocking cries that tingled his flesh like stings of insects. He
seemed to be trying to lead the way out of the world. But at last he
stopped and faced about.
Tom Sharp, said he, between his clenched teeth, you are an
unutterable wretch! I could grind your bones under my heel.
The tall man was in a trance, with glazed eyes fixed on the
bathing-dress. He seemed to be murmuring: Oh, good Lord! Oh, good
Lord! I never saw such a suit!
The freckled man made the gesture of an assassin.
Tom Sharp, you
The other was still murmuring: Oh, good Lord! I never saw such a
suit! I never
The freckled man ran down into the sea.
The cool, swirling waters took his temper from him, and it became a
thing that is lost in the ocean. The tall man floundered in, and the
two forgot and rollicked in the waves.
The freckled man, in endeavouring to escape from mankind, had left
all save a solitary fisherman under a large hat, and three boys in
bathing-dress, laughing and splashing upon a raft made of old spars.
The two men swam softly over the ground swells.
The three boys dived from their raft, and turned their jolly faces
shorewards. It twisted slowly around and around, and began to move
seaward on some unknown voyage. The freckled man laid his face to the
water and swam toward the raft with a practised stroke. The tall man
followed, his bended arm appearing and disappearing with the precision
The craft crept away, slowly and wearily, as if luring. The little
wooden plate on the freckled man's head looked at the shore like a
round, brown eye, but his gaze was fixed on the raft that slyly
appeared to be waiting. The tall man used the little wooden plate as a
At length the freckled man reached the raft and climbed aboard. He
lay down on his back and puffed. His bathing-dress spread about him
like a dead balloon. The tall man came, snorted, shook his tangled
locks and lay down by the side of his companion.
They were overcome with a delicious drowsiness. The planks of the
raft seemed to fit their tired limbs. They gazed dreamily up into the
vast sky of summer.
This is great, said the tall man. His companion grunted
Gentle hands from the sea rocked their craft and lulled them to
peace. Lapping waves sang little rippling sea-songs about them. The two
men issued contented groans.
Tom, said the freckled man.
What? said the other.
This is great.
They lay and thought.
A fish-hawk, soaring, suddenly turned and darted at the waves. The
tall man indolently twisted his head and watched the bird plunge its
claws into the water. It heavily arose with a silver gleaming fish.
That bird has got his feet wet again. It's a shame, murmured the
tall man sleepily. He must suffer from an endless cold in the head. He
should wear rubber boots. They'd look great, too. If I was him,
He has partly arisen, and was looking at the shore.
He began to scream. Ted! Ted! Ted! Look!
What's matter? dreamily spoke the freckled man. You remind me of
when I put the bird-shot in your leg. He giggled softly.
The agitated tall man made a gesture of supreme eloquence. His
companion up-reared and turned a startled gaze shoreward.
Lord, he roared, as if stabbed.
The land was a long, brown streak with a rim of green, in which
sparkled the tin roofs of huge hotels. The hands from the sea had
pushed them away. The two men sprang erect, and did a little dance of
What shall we do? What shall we do? moaned the freckled man,
wriggling fantastically in his dead balloon.
The changing shore seemed to fascinate the tall man, and for a time
he did not speak.
Suddenly he concluded his minuet of horror. He wheeled about and
faced the freckled man. He elaborately folded his arms.
So, he said, in slow, formidable tones. So! This all comes from
your accursed vanity, your bathing-suit, your idiocy; you have murdered
your best friend.
He turned away. His companion reeled as if stricken by an unexpected
He stretched out his hands. Tom, Tom, wailed he, beseechingly,
don't be such a fool.
The broad back of his friend was occupied by a contemptuous sneer.
Three ships fell off the horizon. Landward, the hues were blending.
The whistle of a locomotive sounded from an infinite distance as if
tooting in heaven.
Tom! Tom! My dear boy, quavered the freckled man, don't speak
that way to me.
Oh, no, of course not, said the other, still facing away and
throwing the words over his shoulder. You suppose I am going to accept
all this calmly, don't you? Not make the slightest objection? Make no
protest at all, hey?
Well, II began the freckled man.
The tall man's wrath suddenly exploded. You've abducted me! That's
the whole amount of it! You've abducted me!
I ain't, protested the freckled man. You must think I'm a fool.
The tall man swore, and sitting down, dangled his legs angrily in
the water. Natural law compelled his companion to occupy the other end
of the raft.
Over the waters little shoals of fish spluttered, raising tiny
tempests. Languid jelly-fish floated near, tremulously waving a
thousand legs. A row of porpoises trundled along like a procession of
cog-wheels. The sky became greyed save where over the land sunset
colours were assembling.
The two voyagers, back to back and at either end of the raft,
quarrelled at length.
What did you want to follow me for? demanded the freckled man in a
voice of indignation.
If your figure hadn't been so like a bottle, we wouldn't be here,
replied the tall man.
The fires in the west blazed away, and solemnity spread over the
sea. Electric lights began to blink like eyes. Night menaced the
voyagers with a dangerous darkness, and fear came to bind their souls
together. They huddled fraternally in the middle of the raft.
I feel like a molecule, said the freckled man in subdued tones.
I'd give two dollars for a cigar, muttered the tall man.
A V-shaped flock of ducks flew towards Barnegat, between the
voyagers and a remnant of yellow sky. Shadows and winds came from the
vanished eastern horizon.
I think I hear voices, said the freckled man.
That Dollie Ramsdell was an awfully nice girl, said the tall man.
When the coldness of the sea night came to them, the freckled man
found he could by a peculiar movement of his legs and arms encase
himself in his bathing-dress. The tall man was compelled to whistle and
shiver. As night settled finally over the sea, red and green lights
began to dot the blackness. There were mysterious shadows between the
I see things comin', murmured the freckled man.
I wish I hadn't ordered that new dress-suit for the hop to-morrow
night, said the tall man reflectively.
The sea became uneasy and heaved painfully, like a lost bosom, when
little forgotten heart-bells try to chime with a pure sound. The
voyagers cringed at magnified foam on distant wave crests. A moon came
and looked at them.
Somebody's here, whispered the freckled man.
I wish I had an almanac, remarked the tall man, regarding the
Presently they fell to staring at the red and green lights that
twinkled about them.
Providence will not leave us, asserted the freckled man.
Oh, we'll be picked up shortly. I owe money, said the tall man.
He began to thrum on an imaginary banjo.
I have heard, said he, suddenly, that captains with healthy ships
beneath their feet will never turn back after having once started on a
voyage. In that case we will be rescued by some ship bound for the
golden seas of the south. Then, you'll be up to some of your confounded
devilment, and we'll get put off. They'll maroon us! That's what
they'll do! They'll maroon us! On an island with palm trees and
sun-kissed maidens and all that. Sun-kissed maidens, eh? Great!
He suddenly ceased and turned to stone. At a distance a great, green
eye was contemplating the sea wanderers.
They stood up and did another dance. As they watched the eye grew
Directly the form of a phantom-like ship came into view. About the
great, green eye there bobbed small yellow dots. The wanderers could
hear a far-away creaking of unseen tackle and flapping of shadowy
sails. There came the melody of the waters as the ship's prow thrusted
The tall man delivered an oration.
Ha! he exclaimed, here comes our rescuers. The brave fellows! How
I long to take the manly captain by the hand! You will soon see a white
boat with a star on its bow drop from the side of yon ship. Kind
sailors in blue and white will help us into the boat and conduct our
wasted frames to the quarter-deck, where the handsome, bearded captain,
with gold bands all around, will welcome us. Then in the hard-oak
cabin, while the wine gurgles and the Havana's glow, we'll tell our
tale of peril and privation.
The ship came on like a black hurrying animal with froth-filled maw.
The two wanderers stood up and clasped hands. Then they howled out a
wild duet that rang over the wastes of sea.
The cries seemed to strike the ship.
Men with boots on yelled and ran about the deck. They picked up
heavy articles and threw them down. They yelled more. After hideous
creakings and flappings, the vessel stood still.
In the meantime the wanderers had been chanting their song for help.
Out in the blackness they beckoned to the ship and coaxed.
A voice came to them.
Hello, it said.
They puffed out their cheeks and began to shout. Hello! Hello!
Wot do yeh want? said the voice.
The two wanderers gazed at each other, and sat suddenly down on the
raft. Some pall came sweeping over the sky and quenched their stars.
But almost the tall man got up and brawled miscellaneous
information. He stamped his foot, and frowning into the night, swore
The vessel seemed fearful of these moaning voices that called from a
hidden cavern of the water. And now one voice was filled with a menace.
A number of men with enormous limbs that threw vast shadows over the
sea as the lanterns flickered, held a debate and made gestures.
Off in the darkness, the tall man began to clamour like a mob. The
freckled man sat in astounded silence, with his legs weak.
After a time one of the men of enormous limbs seized a rope that was
tugging at the stern and drew a small boat from the shadows. Three
giants clambered in and rowed cautiously toward the raft. Silver water
flashed in the gloom as the oars dipped.
About fifty feet from the raft the boat stopped. Who er you? asked
The tall man braced himself and explained. He drew vivid pictures,
his twirling fingers illustrating like live brushes.
Oh, said the three giants.
The voyagers deserted the raft. They looked back, feeling in their
hearts a mite of tenderness for the wet planks. Later, they wriggled up
the side of the vessel and climbed over the railing.
On deck they met a man.
He held a lantern to their faces. Got any chewin' tewbacca? he
No, said the tall man, we ain't.
The man had a bronze face and solitary whiskers. Peculiar lines
about his mouth were shaped into an eternal smile of derision. His feet
were bare, and clung handily to crevices.
Fearful trousers were supported by a piece of suspender that went up
the wrong side of his chest and came down the right side of his back,
dividing him into triangles.
Ezekiel P. Sanford, capt'in, schooner 'Mary Jones,' of N'yack,
N.Y., genelmen, he said.
Ah! said the tall man, delighted, I'm sure.
There were a few moments of silence. The giants were hovering in the
gloom and staring.
Suddenly astonishment exploded the captain.
Wot th' devil he shouted, wot th' devil yeh got on?
Bathing-suits, said the tall man.
The schooner went on. The two voyagers sat down and watched. After a
time they began to shiver. The soft blackness of the summer night
passed away, and grey mists writhed over the sea. Soon lights of early
dawn went changing across the sky, and the twin beacons on the
highlands grew dim and sparkling faintly, as if a monster were dying.
The dawn penetrated the marrow of the two men in bathing-dress.
The captain used to pause opposite them, hitch one hand in his
suspender, and laugh.
Well, I be dog-hanged, he frequently said.
The tall man grew furious. He snarled in a mad undertone to his
companion. This rescue ain't right. If I had known
He suddenly paused, transfixed by the captain's suspender. It's
goin' to break, cried he, in an ecstatic whisper. His eyes grew large
with excitement as he watched the captain laugh. It'll break in a
But the commander of the schooner recovered, and invited them to
drink and eat. They followed him along the deck, and fell down a square
black hole into the cabin.
It was a little den, with walls of a vanished whiteness. A lamp shed
an orange light. In a sort of recess two little beds were hiding. A
wooden table, immovable, as if the craft had been builded around it,
sat in the middle of the floor. Overhead the square hole was studded
with a dozen stars. A foot-worn ladder led to the heavens.
The captain produced ponderous crackers and some cold broiled ham.
Then he vanished in the firmament like a fantastic comet.
The freckled man sat quite contentedly like a stout squaw in a
blanket. The tall man walked about the cabin and sniffed. He was
angered at the crudeness of the rescue, and his shrinking clothes made
him feel too large. He contemplated his unhappy state.
Suddenly, he broke out. I won't stand this, I tell you! Heavens and
earth, look at thesay, what in the blazes did you want to get me in
this thing for, anyhow? You're a fine old duffer, you are! Look at that
The freckled man grunted. He seemed somewhat blissful. He was seated
upon a bench, comfortably enwrapped in his bathing-dress.
The tall man stormed about the cabin.
This is an outrage! I'll see the captain! I'll tell him what I
He was interrupted by a pair of legs that appeared among the stars.
The captain came down the ladder. He brought a coffee pot from the sky.
The tall man bristled forward. He was going to denounce everything.
The captain was intent upon the coffee pot, balancing it carefully,
and leaving his unguided feet to find the steps of the ladder.
But the wrath of the tall man faded. He twirled his fingers in
excitement, and renewed his ecstatic whisperings to the freckled man.
It's going to break! Look, quick, look! It'll break in a minute!
He was transfixed with interest, forgetting his wrongs in staring at
the perilous passage.
But the captain arrived on the floor with triumphant suspenders.
Well, said he, after yeh have eat, maybe ye'd like t'sleep some!
If so, yeh can sleep on them beds.
The tall man made no reply, save in a strained undertone. It'll
break in about a minute! Look, Ted, look quick!
The freckled man glanced in a little bed on which were heaped boots
and oilskins. He made a courteous gesture.
My dear sir, we could not think of depriving you of your beds. No,
indeed. Just a couple of blankets if you have them, and we'll sleep
very comfortable on these benches.
The captain protested, politely twisting his back and bobbing his
head. The suspenders tugged and creaked. The tall man partially
suppressed a cry, and took a step forward.
The freckled man was sleepily insistent, and shortly the captain
gave over his deprecatory contortions. He fetched a pink quilt with
yellow dots on it to the freckled man, and a black one with red roses
on it to the tall man.
Again he vanished in the firmament. The tall man gazed until the
last remnant of trousers disappeared from the sky. Then he wrapped
himself up in his quilt and lay down. The freckled man was puffing
contentedly, swathed like an infant. The yellow polka-dots rose and
fell on the vast pink of his chest.
The wanderers slept. In the quiet could be heard the groanings of
timbers as the sea seemed to crunch them together. The lapping of water
along the vessel's side sounded like gaspings. An hundred spirits of
the wind had got their wings entangled in the rigging, and, in soft
voices, were pleading to be loosened.
The freckled man was awakened by a foreign noise. He opened his eyes
and saw his companion standing by his couch.
His comrade's face was wane with suffering. His eyes glowed in the
darkness. He raised his arms, spreading them out like a clergyman at a
grave. He groaned deep in his chest.
Good Lord! yelled the freckled man, starting up. Tom, Tom, what's
The tall man spoke in a fearful voice. To New York, he said, to
New York in our bathing-suits.
The freckled man sank back. The shadows of the cabin threw mysteries
about the figure of the tall man, arrayed like some ancient and potent
astrologer in the black quilt with the red roses on it.
Directly the tall man went and lay down and began to groan.
The freckled man felt the miseries of the world upon him. He grew
angry at the tall man awakening him. They quarrelled.
Well, said the tall man, finally, we're in a fix.
I know that, said the other, sharply.
They regarded the ceiling in silence.
What in the thunder are we going to do? demanded the tall man,
after a time. His companion was still silent. Say, repeated he,
angrily, what in the thunder are we going to do?
I'm sure I don't know, said the freckled man in a dismal voice.
Well, think of something, roared the other. Think of something,
you old fool. You don't want to make any more idiots of yourself, do
I ain't made an idiot of myself.
Well, think. Know anybody in the city?
I know a fellow up in Harlem, said the freckled man.
You know a fellow up in Harlem, howled the tall man. Up in
Harlem! How the dickens are we tosay, you're crazy!
We can take a cab, cried the other, waxing indignant.
The tall man grew suddenly calm. Do you know any one else? he
I know another fellow somewhere on Park Place.
Somewhere on Park Place, repeated the tall man in an unnatural
manner. Somewhere on Park Place. With an air of sublime resignation
he turned his face to the wall.
The freckled man sat erect and frowned in the direction of his
companion. Well, now, I suppose you are going to sulk. You make me
ill! It's the best we can do, ain't it? Hire a cab and go look that
fellow up on ParkWhat's that? You can't afford it? What nonsense! You
are gettingOh! Well, maybe we can beg some clothes of the captain.
Eh? Did I see 'im. Certainly, I saw 'im. Yes, it is improbable that a
man who wears trousers like that can have clothes to lend. No, I won't
wear oilskins and a sou'-wester. To Athens? Of course not! I don't know
where it is. Do you? I thought not. With all your grumbling about other
people, you never know anything important yourself. What? Broadway?
I'll be hanged first. We can get off at Harlem, man alive. There are no
cabs in Harlem. I don't think we can bribe a sailor to take us ashore
and bring a cab to the dock, for the very simple reason that we have
nothing to bribe him with. What? No, of course not. See here, Tom
Sharp, don't you swear at me like that. I won't have it. What's that? I
ain't, either. I ain't. What? I am not. It's no such thing. I ain't.
I've got more than you have, anyway. Well, you ain't doing anything so
very brilliant yourselfjust lying there and cussin'. At length the
tall man feigned to prodigiously snore. The freckled man thought with
such vigour that he fell asleep.
After a time he dreamed that he was in a forest where bass drums
grew on trees. There came a strong wind that banged the fruit about
like empty pods. A frightful din was in his ears.
He awoke to find the captain of the schooner standing over him.
We're at New York now, said the captain, raising his voice above
the thumping and banging that was being done on deck, an' I s'pose you
fellers wanta go ashore. He chuckled in an exasperating manner. Jes'
sing out when yeh wanta go, he added, leering at the freckled man.
The tall man awoke, came over and grasped the captain by the throat.
If you laugh again I'll kill you, he said.
The captain gurgled and waved his legs and arms.
In the first place, the tall man continued, you rescued us in a
deucedly shabby manner. It makes me ill to think of it. I've a mind to
mop you 'round just for that. In the second place, your vessel is bound
for Athens, N.Y., and there's no sense in it. Now, will you or will you
not turn this ship about and take us back where our clothes are, or to
Philadelphia, where we belong?
He furiously shook the captain. Then he eased his grip and awaited a
I can't, yelled the captain, I can't. This vessel don't belong to
me. I've got to
Well, then, interrupted the tall man, can you lend us some
Hain't got none, replied the captain, promptly. His face was red,
and his eyes were glaring.
Well, then, said the tall man, can you lend us some money?
Hain't got none, replied the captain, promptly. Something overcame
him and he laughed.
Thunderation, roared the tall man. He seized the captain, who
began to have wriggling contortions. The tall man kneaded him as if he
were biscuits. You infernal scoundrel, he bellowed, this whole
affair is some wretched plot, and you are in it. I am about to kill
The solitary whisker of the captain did acrobatic feats like a
strange demon upon his chin. His eyes stood perilously from his head.
The suspender wheezed and tugged like the tackle of a sail.
Suddenly the tall man released his hold. Great expectancy sat upon
his features. It's going to break, he cried, rubbing his hands.
But the captain howled and vanished in the sky.
The freckled man then came forward. He appeared filled with sarcasm.
So! said he. So, you've settled the matter. The captain is the
only man in the world who can help us, and I daresay he'll do anything
he can now.
That's all right, said the tall man. If you don't like the way I
run things you shouldn't have come on this trip at all.
They had another quarrel.
At the end of it they went on deck. The captain stood at the stern
addressing the bow with opprobrious language. When he perceived the
voyagers he began to fling his fists about in the air.
I'm goin' to put yeh off, he yelled. The wanderers stared at each
Hum, said the tall man.
The freckled man looked at his companion. He's going to put us off,
you see, he said, complacently.
The tall man began to walk about and move his shoulders. I'd like
to see you do it, he said, defiantly.
The captain tugged at a rope. A boat came at his bidding.
I'd like to see you do it, the tall man repeated, continually. An
imperturbable man in rubber boots climbed down in the boat and seized
the oars. The captain motioned downward. His whisker had a triumphant
The two wanderers looked at the boat. I guess we'll have to get
in, murmured the freckled man.
The tall man was standing like a granite column. I won't, said he.
I won't! I don't care what you do, but I won't!
Well, but expostulated the other. They held a furious debate.
In the meantime the captain was darting about making sinister
gestures, but the back of the tall man held him at bay. The crew, much
depleted by the departure of the imperturbable man into the boat,
looked on from the bow.
You're a fool, the freckled man concluded his argument.
So? inquired the tall man, highly exasperated.
So? Well, if you think you're so bright, we'll go in the boat, and
then you'll see.
He climbed down into the craft and seated himself in an ominous
manner at the stern.
You'll see, he said to his companion, as the latter floundered
heavily down. You'll see!
The man in rubber boots calmly rowed the boat toward the shore. As
they went, the captain leaned over the railing and laughed. The
freckled man was seated very victoriously.
Well, wasn't this the right thing after all? he inquired in a
pleasant voice. The tall man made no reply.
As they neared the dock something seemed suddenly to occur to the
Great heavens, he murmured. He stared at the approaching shore.
My, what a plight, Tommy, he quavered.
Do you think so? spoke up the tall man, Why, I really thought you
liked it. He laughed in a hard voice. Lord, what a figure you'll
This laugh jarred the freckled man's soul. He became mad.
Thunderation, turn the boat around, he roared. Turn 'er round,
quick. Man alive, we can'tturn 'er round, d'ye hear.
The tall man in the stern gazed at his companion with glowing eyes.
Certainly not, he said. We're going on. You insisted upon it. He
began to prod his companion with words.
The freckled man stood up and waved his arms.
Sit down, said the tall man. You'll tip the boat over.
The other man began to shout.
Sit down, said the tall man again.
Words bubbled from the freckled man's mouth. There was a little
torrent of sentences that almost choked him. And he protested
passionately with his hands.
But the boat went on to the shadow of the docks. The tall man was
intent upon balancing it as it rocked dangerously during his comrade's
Sit down, he continually repeated.
I won't, raged the freckled man. I won't do anything. The boat
wobbled with these words.
Say, he continued, addressing the oarsman, just turn this boat
round, will you. Where in the thunder are you taking us to, anyhow?
The oarsman looked at the sky and thought. Finally he spoke. I'm
doin' what the cap'n sed.
Well, what in th' blazes do I care what the cap'n sed? demanded
the freckled man. He took a violent step. You just turn this round
The small craft reeled. Over one side water came flashing in. The
freckled man cried out in fear, and gave a jump to the other side. The
tall man roared orders, and the oarsman made efforts. The boat acted
for a moment like an animal on a slackened wire. Then it upset.
Sit down, said the tall man, in a final roar as he was plunged
into the water. The oarsman dropped his oars to grapple with the
gunwale. He went down saying unknown words. The freckled man's
explanation or apology was strangled by the water.
Two or three tugs let off whistles of astonishment, and continued on
their paths. A man dosing on a dock aroused and began to caper. The
passengers of a ferry-boat all ran to the near railing.
A miraculous person in a small boat was bobbing on the waves near
the piers. He sculled hastily toward the scene. It was a swirl of
waters in the midst of which the dark bottom of the boat appeared,
Two heads suddenly came up. 839, said the freckled man, chokingly.
That's it! 839!
What is? said the tall man.
That's the number of that feller on Park Place. I just remembered.
You're the bloomingest the tall man said.
It wasn't my fault, interrupted his companion. If you hadn't
He tried to gesticulate, but one hand held to the keel of the boat, and
the other was supporting the form of the oarsman. The latter had fought
a battle with his immense rubber boots and had been conquered.
The rescuer in the other small boat came fiercely. As his craft
glided up, he reached out and grasped the tall man by the collar and
dragged him into the boat, interrupting what was, under the
circumstances, a very brilliant flow of rhetoric directed at the
freckled man. The oarsman of the wrecked craft was taken tenderly over
the gunwale and laid in the bottom of the boat. Puffing and blowing,
the freckled man climbed in.
You'll upset this one before we can get ashore, the other voyager
As they turned toward the land they saw that the nearest dock was
lined with people. The freckled man gave a little moan.
But the staring eyes of the crowd were fixed on the limp form of the
man in rubber boots. A hundred hands reached down to help lift the body
up. On the dock some men grabbed it and began to beat it and roll it. A
policeman tossed the spectators about. Each individual in the heaving
crowd sought to fasten his eyes on the blue-tinted face of the man in
the rubber boots. They surged to and fro, while the policeman beat them
The wanderers came modestly up the dock and gazed shrinkingly at the
throng. They stood for a moment, holding their breath to see the first
finger of amazement levelled at them.
But the crowd bended and surged in absorbing anxiety to view the man
in rubber boots, whose face fascinated them. The sea-wanderers were as
though they were not there.
They stood without the jam and whispered hurriedly.
839, said the freckled man.
All right, said the tall man.
Under the pommeling hands the oarsman showed signs of life. The
voyagers watched him make a protesting kick at the leg of the crowd,
the while uttering angry groans.
He's better, said the tall man, softly; let's make off.
Together they stole noiselessly up the dock. Directly in front of it
they found a row of six cabs.
The drivers on top were filled with a mighty curiosity. They had
driven hurriedly from the adjacent ferry-house when they had seen the
first running sign of an accident. They were straining on their toes
and gazing at the tossing backs of the men in the crowd.
The wanderers made a little detour, and then went rapidly towards a
cab. They stopped in front of it and looked up.
Driver, called the tall man, softly.
The man was intent.
Driver, breathed the freckled man. They stood for a moment and
The cabman suddenly moved his feet. By Jimmy, I bet he's a gonner,
he said, in an ecstacy, and he again relapsed into a statue.
The freckled man groaned and wrung his hands. The tall man climbed
into the cab.
Come in here, he said to his companion. The freckled man climbed
in, and the tall man reached over and pulled the door shut. Then he put
his head out the window.
Driver, he roared, sternly, 839 Park Placeand quick.
The driver looked down and met the eye of the tall man.
Eh?Oh839? Park Place? Yessir. He reluctantly gave his horse a
clump on the back. As the conveyance rattled off the wanderers huddled
back among the dingy cushions and heaved great breaths of relief.
Well, it's all over, said the freckled man, finally. We're about
out of it. And quicker than I expected. Much quicker. It looked to me
sometimes that we were doomed. I am thankful to find it not so. I am
rejoiced. And I hope and trust that youwell, I don't wish,
toperhaps it is not the proper time tothat is, I don't wish to
intrude a moral at an inopportune moment, but, my dear, dear fellow, I
think the time is ripe to point out to you that your obstinacy, your
selfishness, your villainous temper, and your various other faults can
make it just as unpleasant for your ownself, my dear boy, as they
frequently do for other people. You can see what you brought us to, and
I most sincerely hope, my dear, dear fellow, that I shall soon see
those signs in you which shall lead me to believe that you have become
a wiser man.